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City News

Posted on: August 10, 2022

Reports of financial scams on the rise

News Flash scam alert

The Oak Forest Police Department has seen an increase in residents suffering from several different financial crimes, including phishing, spear phishing, and the washing of personal checks.

In phishing scams, scammers send you texts or email messages with the intent of tricking you into responding in some way. Often the links sent will include malicious attachments or links you can click on. If you open or click on the attachment or link, the scammer can gain access to your device.

Spear phishing is a personalized version of the same scam. In this case, instead of receiving an email from a random individual, the scam artist will send you a personalized message that appears to come from a trusted source or a loved one. There are many variations of the scam, but the scam artist will often tell you a story to trick you into giving up your private information. For example, the fraudster may:

  • Say he’s noticed suspicious activity on your account and wants you to verify your information;
  • Include a fake invoice;
  • Offer a government refund or claim you won a prize; or
  • Purport to be a loved one that is in need of help.

So, what are the warning signs of such scams?

  • Phishing messages often look legitimate — as though they came from a person or company you know. Spoofing a logo is easy and scammers will often make their messages look like they are from a trusted source.
  • They will ask you to click on a link or open an attachment.
  • They may ask you to provide passwords, bank account numbers, or other confidential information, or have you log into an account from a link that looks like a legitimate webpage but it is not.
  • They will use fear to try to pressure you to act quickly. They may threaten to close your account, fine you, or even have you arrested if you don’t move quickly.

What can you do?

  • Protect your devices by using anti-virus and anti-malware software. Set the software to update automatically.
  • Don’t assume that a message that looks like it is from a friend or business associate is real. Call or email the person or company to confirm before clicking on a link or opening an attachment.
  • Most importantly, if you have any doubt — don’t click.  When it comes to logging into your accounts, type in the website for the company, financial institute, or service provider. Don’t trust links sent via emails or texts.

Check washing is another way that scammers have been exploiting people. In this case, they obtain a legitimate check that has been sent to a person or service provider. The check is then altered to change the name it was sent to and the amount of money that was to be paid. These checks are then distributed to people that cash them at the financial institutions they are drawn from.  

What to look for:

  • Unusual amounts of money withdrawn from your bank.
  • Notices from service providers that you sent a check to for payment.
  • When looking at canceled checks, see checks paid to parties you are not familiar with.

What can you do:

  • Contact your financial institutions immediately.
  • Contact your local authorities.
  • Contact the service providers that have not received payment.

If you have been a victim of any scam or fraud, report it to your local authorities. The FBI also has an Internet Crime Complaint Center.

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